By John Esten Cooke
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Extra resources for A life of Gen. Robert E. Lee
General Lee pressed the dying man's hand, released it, stood for several minutes by the bedside motionless and in perfect silence, and then went out of the room. On the next morning Bishop Meade expired. ] PART II. IN FRONT OF RICHMOND. I. PLAN OF THE FEDERAL CAMPAIGN. The pathetic interview which we have just described took place in the month of March, 1862. By the latter part of that month, General McClellan, in command of an army of more than one hundred thousand men, landed on the Peninsula between the James and York Rivers, and after stubbornly-contested engagements with the forces of General Johnston, advanced up the Peninsula--the Confederates slowly retiring.
When Richmond became the capital soon afterward, and the Southern Congress assembled, five brigadier-generals were appointed, Generals Cooper, Albert S. E. Johnston, and Beauregard. Large forces had been meanwhile raised throughout the South; Virginia became the centre of all eyes, as the scene of the main struggle; and early in June occurred at Bethel, in Lower Virginia, the first prominent affair, in which General Butler, with about four thousand men, was repulsed and forced to retire. The affair at Bethel, which was of small importance, was followed by movements in Northern and Western Virginia--the battles at Rich Mountain and Carrick's Ford; Johnston's movements in the Valley; and the advance of the main Federal army on the force under Beauregard, which resulted in the first battle of Manassas.
He faltered out, "and fit you for your high and responsible duties. " General Lee pressed the feeble hand, and tears rolled down his cheeks. "Yes, bishop--very often," he said, in reply to the last words uttered by the bishop. A brief conversation followed, Bishop Meade making inquiries in reference to Mrs. Lee, who was his own relative, and other members of the family. " It now became necessary to terminate an interview which, in the feeble condition of the aged man, could not be prolonged. Much exhausted, and laboring under deep emotion, Bishop Meade shook the general by the hand, and said: "Heaven bless you!